The Leon Kramer Collection

Labor Periodical Punch Press

The Leon Kramer Collection

In 1997, the Golda Meir Library acquired from the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, a large collection of more than 10,000 pamphlets relating to organized labor, socialism, African Americans, women's history, and radical politics. The collection was acquired primarily because of the numerous titles relevant to the Library's Morris Fromkin Memorial Collection which documents the history of the quest for social justice in the United States.

The Leon Kramer Collection consists of rare, scarce, and ephemeral materials from the mid-eighteenth to the mid-twentieth century. Included is a diverse array of material ranging from nineteenth century political broadsides and pamphlets relating to railroads, to declassified government reports dealing with the attitude of African Americans during the Second World War.

The collection originally formed part of the stock of Russian-born, New York "bookseller and anarchist" Leon Kramer. From 1930 until his death in 1962, Kramer's rare book business specialized in economics, the social sciences, and radical literature. After Kramer's death, the UW-Green Bay Library acquired the inventory of his bookstore for its collection. Most of the bound monographs were integrated into the UW-Green Bay Library's general stacks; however, a portion of the collection was both very fragile and too specialized for UW-Green Bay's mission.

Although several out-of-state institutions had expressed an interest in the material, the UW-Green Bay library director preferred an arrangement that would ensure that this significant resource remained in the UW-System. The UWM Golda Meir Library, with its emphasis on the history of social justice in the Fromkin Memorial Collection, proved to be a perfect home for the collection.

Golda Meir Library Director Peter Watson-Boone observed, "The Leon Kramer Collection will serve as a superb primary resource for studying such subjects as social, political, labor, and women's history in the United States during the past century. It is the largest single acquisition ever for the Fromkin Memorial Collection and supports significantly the collecting and educational goals that were envisioned by the heirs of Morris Fromkin." During a visit to view some of the new material relating to African American history, Africology Professor and UWM Library Committee member Winston Vanhorne supported Watson-Boone's assessment succinctly. "A great haul!" he concluded.

David Fromkin Presents the Library with a Rare Labor Periodical

In a ceremonial presentation at the 30th Annual Fromkin Memorial Lecture on October 14, 1999, Boston University Professor David Fromkin, the son of Morris Fromkin, after whom the lecture, fellowship, and collection are named, presented the Golda Meir Library with rare issues of the 1937 Flint General Motors Sit-Down Strike newsletter, The Punch Press. The official United Auto Workers Union (UAW) bulletin serves as a primary document of this important historical event. The bulletin was published by a group of University of Michigan students at the behest of UAW officials, and came out irregularly from January 19, 1937 to early March 1937. The bulletins were mimeographed, with each issue not more than three pages in length, and distributed at the strike site. Because of their ephemeral nature, very few issues have survived intact. The Library’s copy includes all but two issues. OCLC indicates only two other institutional holdings. The Punch Press joins other materials in the Fromkin Memorial Collection that document this active and often volatile period of American labor history.

 

 

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Morris Fromkin Collection of American Social Justice.  Dedicated to encouraging research on the history of social justice. Image of Morris Fromkin